It is often said that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Does your business already have a business plan? If you are considering attracting investors or providing directions for your business, the vital point to hold is that having a perfectly written business plan is very important for the success of your business.
Creating a business plan for your business shouldn’t have some rocket-science procedures. And you do not need to have a degree in accounting or entrepreneurship to get this done. The guide we will be revealing here will make getting that perfectly written business plan easy for you.
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What Is A Business Plan?
A Business plan is a document formally written with details on the goals of a business, steps to attaining such goals, and the expected time-frame of achieving the goals. Other information that a business plan could have are; the kind of business you are running, background information of the business, business biographies, strategies to achieving the business goals, and the financial state and projections of the business.
In total, a business plan should serve as a route map for your business to follow to attain success. But what should you include in your business plan?
Here Are Items Your Business Plan Should Have:
i. A List Of Your Organization’s Key Milestones: This should set your company’s business plan into real budgets, practicals, management responsibilities, concrete terms, and deadlines among others.
ii. An Executive Summary: This is an introductory part of your business plan that should appear succinct and reveal what your business is all about, your target market, finance, and the solutions you are proffering. It is expected to grab the attention of the reader quickly.
An executive summary is a brief introduction and summary of your business plan. It should describe your business, the problem that it solves, your target market, and financial highlights. Read more on creating an Executive summary here.
iii. An Overview Of Your Company: This is also referred to as a company summary. It highlights the most vital aspects of an organization. These include the company’s mission statement, history, location, legal structure, and management team. It often comes after the executive summary of a business plan.
iv. Information On The Products Or Services You Offer: The kind of product or services your company offers should compulsorily be detailed in your business plan. The problems you are solving are the reason you are in business, hence all players of your organization need to be duly informed about them.
v. The Marketing Plan Of Your Business: Whether you are just starting out or you have been in business for quite a while, having a good business plan must include very good market analysis. Your market should be proven, understood, and described in it. This, however, is not needed if your business plan is for internal use.
vi. Information About Your Business’ Working Team And The Part Each Of Them Play.
vii. The Financial Plan Of Your Business: Your company’s financial plan is not negotiable in your business plan. It is however one of the sections that can be very intimidating. This is simply an overview of your business’ financial state, growth, and projections.
Here Is A Brief Survey Of The Common Types Of Business Plans
1. A One-Page Business Plan
This kind of business plan is a precis of what your business is all about and including goals. Well, this doesn’t mean that all necessary information must be squeezed into just one page. It just reveals that the information revealed is given in simple and concise language.
This kind of business plan can be targeted at achieving different goals. One, it can serve as an introductory piece to potential customers, investors, or visitors. It is a good way to capture the mind of your target audience quickly. You can go into a broader and more detailed page-plan later.
Two, if your business is still in its early stage, you may just want to put something out on a sketch. You can take it as a broader version of jotting down your business plan. When you keep it on a page, it becomes much easier to capture its content in one-piece.
2. Lean Business Plan
Unlike the one-page business plan, the Lean Business Plan has extensive information on the document. This includes broader financial information. But then, it is not as the conventional detailed business plan. This particular type works as an in-house guide for keeping track of plans and growth processes of the organization.
Lean Business Plan focuses on the business’ financial goals, metrics, tactics, strategy, forecasts, and milestones. However, sections like the management team, exit strategy, and organization history are not included since they are not part of the basic essence of the business plan.
The plan is not often a voluminous document. It is just a plan with 5 to like 10 pages. Information can be itemized using simple bullet points to define specific tasks and dates, tactics, vital figures, strategy, expenses, projected sales, and cash flow. And in fact, you may just leave them on your computer and not bother printing them, so that they can be revisited for reviews often.
This kind of business plan can serve as a guide to measuring the progress and strategies of startups and existing businesses.
3. External or Standard Business Plan
This type of business plan provides detailed company information to not just the management team, but outsiders inclusive. It is a well structured and detailed plan that is targeted at getting investors to fund a business, to employ or train team members and key employees, and also geared towards giving support for a loan application.
Since investors want to be well informed about what will happen to their money when handed to you, your External business plan must detail how the funds will be put to use. Finally, the management team is given more focus. Investment is made on people, so it is very important to include the biographies of the major team members and their contributions to the success of the business.
Creating your first business plan may seem like a daunting work, but these guides should put your mind at ease with getting a perfectly written business plan done.
Here Are Steps To A Perfectly Written Business Plan
1. Do Your Research
Do thorough research before you venture into creating a business plan for your company. In fact, the time you spend doing your brainstorming, research, and evaluation should be like twice as much as you’d spend writing your business plan.
You should have concrete knowledge of your company, the product or services your company renders, the major competitions your company has, and a good analysis of your market. Learn everything you have the opportunity to learn about your business and get your audience informed about your plans.
2. Establish The Purpose Of Your Business Plan
While your business plan should reveal the kind of business you run, your financial background, marketing and sales strategy, a profit and loss sheet, and more, it is however essential to determine what your business plan aims at achieving. There are several reasons you may want to create a business plan. Here are some purposes you may want to consider when creating a business plan:
i. To determine your company’s milestones.
ii. To show your seriousness and commitment to your company.
iii. To have a better understanding of your target audience.
iv. To determine your business’ milestones.
v. To uncover and access your business opportunities.
vi. To attract potential investors.
vii. To attract the right kind of employees and members to your team.
viii. To cut down on the risk of chasing the wrong goals.
ix. To position your brand for success.
x. To deal with volatile economical conditions.
xi. To attract partners.
xii. To understand the needs of your staff
Establishing a purpose for your business plan would serve as a road map for your company to follow. The different purposes would also determine the total outlook of your business plan. For instance, if you intend to attract investors, your business plan should target them with clear and detailed information.
3. Put Your Company Profile In Place
Your company profile should include information such as the kind of products and services you render, how you intend to solve a problem with what you render, the history of your business, your resources, and why your company stands out from your competitors. This information can go into your company’s official website about page.
This section of your business plan is often targeted at attracting potential customers to your business. And in fact, it is one of the parts you write first.
4. Put All The Aspects Of Your Business Into The Document
When your purpose especially targets investors, you just cannot avoid detailing on all the aspects of your business. This is expected to get your investors convinced about putting their funds into your business. You should include your business projections, licensing agreements, cash flow, location, and all your expenses among other information.
5. Tell Us Why You Care
Why exactly do you care?
Do you even care at all?
Well, your business plan needs to reveal this to your customers, investors, team members and other key players of your business. You must let them know how committed, passionate, and dedicated you are about the business and the plan. Do not hold back your mistakes, give a description of your values, highlight the problems you are proffering solutions to, reveal what makes you different from others.
Giving out this information will help you tap into the emotions of others to get them to support your business going forward.
6. Make Your Business Plan Adaptable To Your Audience
Your audience has varying interests. If you have good information about this, put them into consideration when preparing your business plan. For instance, venture capitalists will be considering your management team and the basic concept of your business, while bankers will be more concerned with your cash-flow statements and balance sheets.
In essence, it would be much better if your business plan can be flexible to accept adjustments when necessary. Keep your information the same across the board on your finances.
7. Create A Strategic Marketing Plan
Your business plan isn’t complete without planning for aggressive marketing. Your business will need this to excel. This marketing plan should have sections such as:
i. The executive summary
ii. Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
iii. Target Audience /Customers
iv. Distribution strategy
vi. Your Financial Projections
vii. Marketing Materials
viii. Special Offers
ix. Online Marketing Strategy
x. Promotion plan
xi. Conversion strategy
xii. Retention Strategy
xiii. Joint Partnerships
xiv. Strategy on referrals
Your marketing objectives should involve putting effort into improving your products and expanding their reach, extending your company’s territories, creating a new product and get them introduced, building relationships with long-term clients, creating strategies to increase prices a bit and still retain your customers, and cross-selling your different products.